Welcome BookSnob followers. Danielle Sosin is March's author in the Spotlight here on Booksnob. Her book, The Long-Shining Waters is up for the MN book award in April. Read on to find out the background behind this wonderful book and what authors inspire Ms. Sosin. Enjoy!
- Tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m from Minneapolis but have lived in Duluth for almost a decade. I moved up (it was supposed to be temporary) when I was working on The Long-Shining Waters. In the cities, I supported my writing habit through work at numerous food venues. I now work in childcare and as a landscape/gardener.
- What inspired you to write The Long-Shining Waters?
Lake Superior has always had a hold on me. I’ve been visiting the lake since I was five. That makes it my first ocean, my first experience facing that sort of vastness, and power. As an adult, I’ve spent a lot of time writing on its shores, renting cabins for long stints of solitude and work. I think that all of that contemplative time led me to ponder the Lake. As many of your readers probably know, Lake Superior is a body of water like no other. It has a palpable sense of mystery, and hauntedness. The Lake itself inspired me to write The Long-Shining Waters.
- Usually an author puts some of his own life experiences in the book. Did you do that? Do you have anything in common with your characters?
My hope, of course, is that everyone who reads the novel recognizes bits of themselves in the characters, that they recognize a common humanity. And yes, much of my own experience is in the book, but mostly with regard to the observations and descriptions of place.
- Why did you decide to set your book in Minnesota and over the time frame of several centuries?
The book is set in Minnesota, but also in Wisconsin, The Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and the Province of Ontario, Canada. The novel’s setting was dictated by the Lake’s circumference.
To answer the “why over several centuries” part, I need to back up a bit. The novel is my attempt to explore the question—what is it about Lake Superior that makes it so powerful, mysterious, and haunting?
The premise of the book that I ended up working with is that Superior is holding its history. Literally, as in all the stuff down there, but more importantly in a watery, subconscious way, so that everything that has happened on and around the lake is held there in its waters. That in turn, affects all the people who live on it’s shores.
If one takes to heart the premise that lake holds its history, a simultaneity of time occurs. All the stories are held in the waters at once. And though the reader encounters each story in a linear historical time frame, the reader also sees the larger picture, wherein all of the stories are happening at once.
From early on in this project, I envisioned this simultaneity. I saw it like one would on an overhead projector--the stories in 1622, 1902, and 2000, all overlaid, all three visible at once.
- What are some of the important issues in The Long-Shining Waters that you hope your readers will interpret as integral to the story?
To me, the novel deals most strongly with the issues of the power of place, and with our connectedness to one another. The book’s territory centered in the things we as humans can only intuit. Things we only know at the edges. But there are themes, too, of loss and endurance, time and cosmology, relationship, or lack thereof, to nature, to spirit, to other human beings. Of course, each reader brings their own history to a book, reads it in their own way, and makes their own interpretation.
- Do you like to read? What authors or books influence you?
My favorite way to read is cover to cover in one sitting, or maybe two.
I’ve been inspired by many authors over the years. My largest debt is to Virginia Woolf, who taught me that minutia and inner-life could make great art. Also, Annie Dillard whose rigorous juxtapositions of ideas I find fascinating.
- Can you tell us about your first book?
My first book was a collection of short stories titled Garden Primitives, published by Coffee House Press in 2000. It’s a collection of twelve stories compiled from nearly a decade of work. The stories stand alone, in that there are no repeating characters and no overarching theme.
- Are you currently writing your 3rd book? Can you give us a hint about the plot?
Yes, I am working on something new. And I wish I could tell you something about the plot, but books are a slow process for me. The last involved over a year of reading and forming ideas before I began to write. My new project is still too vague to say anything intelligent about.
- Your book The Long-Shining Waters is shortlisted for the MN book award. What was your reaction to hearing your name and book announced as a finalist?
I didn’t actually hear any kind of formal announcement. I found out that the novel was a finalist early one morning on a facebook post. A friend was congratulating me for being a finalist. Certainly, it’s an honor to be selected. Given that writing is such a solitary endeavor, it is deeply satisfying to know that the novel is being read, and that people are responding in positive ways.
- In one sentence tell readers why they should read The Long-Shining Waters?
Sheesh—I don’t know how to answer that. I only hope that readers will find their way to the book, and in the end be glad that they did.
Thanks Danielle for answering these questions.
If you are interested in winning a copy of Danielle's book The Long-Shining Waters please click the highlighted link: The Long-Shining Waters Contest